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£11 million for Capacity Building Awards in Integrative Mammalian Biology Research

17 June 2005

A unique new partnership between Research and Higher Education Funding Councils, Learned Societies and a consortium of pharmaceutical companies (AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer) has established an £11 million dedicated fund to springboard capacity building in integrative mammalian biology.

Integrative biology is the study of how gene products integrate into the function of whole tissues in intact organisms. Understanding gene function in mammalian systems ultimately requires the use of mammalian models. The information generated is central to the development of new therapeutic approaches to tackle human and animal diseases and to help deliver safe and effective medicines.

The Capacity Building Awards (CBAs) have been pioneered as a response to concerns, highlighted by recent surveys, that the UK is losing capacity in integrative mammalian biology. The CBA partnership will provide resources to rebuild this capacity to ensure that the UK can capitalise on the wealth of data generated by large scale genome projects for the development of new therapeutic approaches to tackle human and animal diseases and the delivery of safe and effective medicines.

CBAs will support institutions that already demonstrate existing strengths in integrative mammalian biology to enable them to equip the next generation of researchers with the range of expertise and skills required including best practice in the use of animals in research, high quality experimental design and the application of a broad range of techniques and approaches in integrative mammalian biology.

The partnership is now calling for Expressions of Interest, deadline 26 September 2005 and will hold a meeting in July to provide further information for potential applicants.

Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, says, “Research into integrative mammalian biology is absolutely fundamental to help us to translate the huge amount of information from human and animal genome projects. Only by bringing together this unique range of funders will we develop the truly integrated approach to build capacity in this area and place it on solid foundations for the future.”

Professor Colin Blakemore, Chief Executive of the MRC, says, “This will give an immediate boost to integrative mammalian biology research capacity. The MRC is delighted to provide research funding for this important initiative. It is in everyone’s interest to consolidate and strengthen these research skills in the UK. The pharmaceutical sector in particular needs trained physiologists and pharmacologists to help to turn scientific knowledge into advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment.”


Notes to editors

Capacity Building Awards are open to all UK HEIs with an established record of research and training in integrative mammalian biology.

An applicants meeting will be held in July 2005 in central London. The aim of the meeting is to provide more detailed information about the Awards and give an opportunity to respond to questions from nominated representatives from each HEI.
The meeting will cover:

  • Background to Capacity Building Awards
  • Objectives of the Awards
  • Possible models of support
  • Assessment criteria and time frame

Up to 2 delegates from each HEI are invited to attend this meeting. Delegates must register electronically at http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

Funding for the Capacity Building Awards is made up of: HEFCE £4M, BBSRC £2M, MRC £2M, BPS £2M, SHEFC £1M

In June 2004, a British Pharmacological Society / Physiological Society survey documented a significant decline in the number of University departments able to deliver in vivo teaching over the next 5 years which will impact on the volume of integrative biology research undertaken in UK Universities. The UK Veterinary Schools were not included in this survey.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk


The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) distributes public money for teaching and research to universities and colleges. In doing so, it aims to promote high quality education and research, within a financially healthy sector. The Council also plays a key role in ensuring accountability and promoting good practice. In 2004-05, HEFCE will allocate £6 billion in public funds.

About MRC

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is a national organisation funded by the UK tax-payer. Its business is medical research aimed at improving human health; everyone stands to benefit from the outputs. The research it supports and the scientists it trains meet the needs of the health services, the pharmaceutical and other health-related industries and the academic world. MRC has funded work which has led to some of the most significant discoveries and achievements in medicine in the UK. About half of the MRC’s expenditure of approximately £500 million is invested in its 40 Institutes, Units and Centres. The remaining half goes in the form of grant support and training awards to individuals and teams in universities and medical schools. Web site at: http://www.mrc.ac.uk


The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC) is a non-departmental public body which supports the maintenance and further development of Scottish higher education institutions. SHEFC distributes more than £800 million each year of public money to 20 higher education institutions (HEIs) in Scotland for teaching and research; and the Council encourages HEIs to pursue quality improvement, to build on their distinctive strengths in teaching and research, and to promote diversity and collaboration; helps the higher education sector to address the needs of students, employers and society; works towards equal opportunity of access; and works towards achieving value for public money and securing accountability.

About the British Pharmacological Society

The British Pharmacological Society is the UK learned society for the study of drugs and how they affect the body. It has 2,500 members in the UK and overseas, who work in academia, industry, regulatory bodies, health services etc., in pharmacological and clinical pharmacological research and practice. AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer have agree to donate a total of £4 million over four years to the BPS's Integrative Pharmacology Fund, to be used to support in vivo mammalian pharmacology, physiology and toxicology research and education in the UK.

External contact

Lisa Knowles, MRC Senior Press Officer

tel: 020 7637 6011

Philip Walker, HEFCE Press Officer

tel: 0117 931 7363

Samantha Bridgland, SHEFC Assistant Communications Officer

tel: 0131 313 6683


Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382